Two opposing world views and the beginning of the journey in cultural training.
Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me.” John 42-45 (ESV)
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of Truth and the spirit of error. 1 John 4:1-6 (ESV)
As we prepared to follow our call to Uganda, we knew some of the expectations and requirements that awaited us. We told people about the 5 months (20 weeks!) of “cultural” training that we would undertake upon our arrival. We told people about New Hope, about moving to the village of Kiwoko (Chē-wō-kō) and how we would be living in a Banda. We were excited! We were looking forward to the classes, to learn about the Ugandan culture where we would be ministering and to enjoy the slower pace of life following the hectic journey that we had just completed. Two and a half weeks after our arrival, we reported to New Hope to begin our next journey. However, one week in, we are traveling in a direction that I never expected… Traveling in a direction that honestly I never would have chosen… Traveling with companions with whom I am not familiar… All of these are unexpected, but I am immensely thankful for each!
At the start of our class on Monday morning, the room began to fill. As people found their seats, the special makeup of our class began to take shape. We are the 25th class of the Institute of Children and Family. In our class, we have a near even split of white and black, of Western and of African. But this does not even begin to express and explain the amazing diversity of our class. The American contingent come from various corners of our country. From the deep south to the Dakotas, from the Appalachian mountains to the Rockies, from the mid-Atlantic to the Great Lakes, we have a wonderfully diverse group. But as I looked and introduced myself to my Ugandan classmates, my initial thought was that they are all very similar people. What an ignorant thought!
Our Ugandan brothers and sisters are as wonderfully diverse as the American continent. We have members of the Baganda tribe from the central area of the country, members of the Karamojong and Iteso tribes from the east, Acholi from the north and other tribes that I have shamefully forgot. 12 Bazungu (whites) and 14 Ugandan. What a great mix! But I will be honest, it has made learning greetings hard, because they each have a different language. Thankfully we have 20 weeks to practice!
The initial topic that our class started with was “Worldview”. Wow! We have completely different cultural world views just among the Americans, add the Ugandan contingent and we will be differentiating world views for months! But then the body blow came. The amazingly simple, but shocking fact that there are only two worldviews. Yes, I did write 2. The Worldview of Truth and the Worldview of Lies. What a radically simple statement! My proud and hard Pharisaical heart was not ready for this.
“When Thy blessings come I begin to idolize them, and set my affection on some beloved object- children, friends, wealth, honor; Cleanse this spiritual adultery and give me chastity. Close my heart to all but Thee; Sin is my greatest curse; Let Thy victory be apparent to my consciousness, and displayed in my life.” -A Cry for Deliverance. The Valley of Vision.
I am a proud man. I am proud of my heritage. A heritage of faith, a heritage of family, a heritage of southern culture, a heritage of education, a heritage of accomplishments, heritages that have all shaped and defined my identity. I was oblivious to the implications of this, and I was soon to realize how much my heart followed the whisperings of the world. The two passage from John quoted above give two pretty clear options. I am either of my Abba Father or I am of the father of lies… I either profess Truth or I profess lies.
Truth is not relative. Truth is not subjective. Truth does not change with time. Truth is not what my experiences and culture have led me to value. Pilate asked while judging Christ, “What is truth?” The supreme irony was that Truth was standing in front of him at that very moment. “I am the way, and THE TRUTH (emphasis added), and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6 (ESV). TRUTH IS JESUS. JESUS IS TRUTH.
Seeing the world’s influence on my values, my ideals, my cultural makeup and my beliefs has been startling. I look forward to another 19 weeks to cut away the layers. To explore truth with my brother and sisters. To see how the Truth of Christ is displayed through radically and beautifully different people. Please pray for us! Please pray that our eyes, our minds and our hearts would be opened to the Spirit of Truth. Pray that we would look forward to exploring the amazing differences between the Ugandans and the Americans and also enjoy exploring the amazing unity that we share in Christ! Please also pray for our facilitators. Please pray that they will be bold, in sharing the good news of Christ Jesus. That they will lead us into difficult conversations that require us to draw closer to our Savior.